To Be Heroine – Anime Review
Synopsis: Everyone around Futaba expects her to grow up and become an adult, and she’s lost the ability to keep herself mentally balanced. At the bottom of her heart, her childish self is still there, and still strong. One day she wanders into another dimension, a world where the light has been lost, and darkness rules. The people there exist as babies wearing only their underpants. The clothes they wear can be summoned as powerful fighters called SpiCloths. In this world, a battle was being fought between light and darkness… (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: To Be Heroine very much tries to emulate its predecessor, attempting to weave a more personal, heartfelt story through a wacky, bizarre, action packed narrative. While To Be Hero was in most respects a triumph of that effort, To Be Heroine’s real world, personal tale is far more ambitious, so much so that in the effort to craft this more complex tale the entire thing crumbles beneath its own weight.
Linny: To Be Heroine is at its best in its first half as we watch Futaba literally finding herself another world in what seems to be a subconscious effort to escape the pressures of her current situation and the stress from parents and society to meet high standards and follow a life path she has no desire to. While that pressure may have been a bit dramatic, it was still believable and within the realms of reality as anybody with a strict and overbearing parent probably has experienced similar. But alas, that was but the tiniest of teasers of the extreme melodrama that was going to be unleashed upon the audience once the series hit the halfway point. The first half’s main focus is the comedy that arises from Futaba having to survive in this strange world inhabited by toddlers who have the ability to summon fighters from their garments and the peculiar personalities of those fighters themselves. It’s eclectic and probably not for everyone but it worked well enough to earn a chuckle or two. For those wondering, To Be Heroine IS directly connected to the show, To Be Hero, with the story confirmed to be taking place in the same universe with characters from To Be Hero appearing as main cast characters in To Be Heroine.
Tom: Once we reach the late series twist (Episode 5) the story becomes bogged down in a plot involving Futaba and her friend’s parents, one stretching back decades. It’s story is so ambitious for the otherwise short run time (7 episodes total) that this rather complex backstory is crammed into just a single episode. As if that wasn’t already detrimental the narrative is further encumbered by a wealth of half-baked ideas that give form to numerous plot holes. Any serious thought given to the concepts sees them fall apart. The backstory here heavily influences the progression of To Be Heroine’s final episodes and thus the series never truly recovers from all of Episode 5’s problems, culminating in an ending that screams more of wish-fulfillment and forced happy endings than anything else.
Linny: What further hampers To Be Heroine is the extreme disconnect between its two parts to the point where they almost seem like two separate shows that have no business or purpose being part of the same story.The bizarre comedy of the first half is followed by extremely contrived drama and reveals that pop up out of nowhere and undo whatever entertainment value the show had. The drama the show tries to enforce in the latter parts just does not work because a major part of it is based upon an extremely unbelievable premise; the existence of a drug that can erase the memory of just one specific person in everyone’s memory.This development/reveal comes out of nowhere and feels fake, forced and makes it impossible to take the ensuing drama seriously.
Tom: Perhaps further upsetting is how the initial silly and strange mechanics of the Spicloth world are entirely sidelined after the twist, only making a brief return to proceedings mere moments before the end of the series. Abandoning the wacky nature that hooked audiences early on is a major detriment to the series, and without strong writing to carry the narrative’s darker twists, leaves To Be Heroine ending on a sour note. Even the more overt connections to the original To Be Hero, such as the original cast popping up as Linny mentioned, do little to outweigh all of the narrative’s compounding faults. Eventually this makes any fan service offered to fans of the original feel unrelated and largely pointless.
Linny: To Be Heroine stumbles and fumbles nonstop in its latter half. From extremely fake set ups to half-assed developments, throwaway reveals and that’s not even the end of it all. To Be Heroine tries to bring the melodrama right up to its very last second with an unexpected reunion, making it clear that the show thinks the audience cares about the fate of our characters when most likely, the audience is just sour at the complete abandonment of the spicloth plot line and the forced drama and ham-fisted developments. To Be Heroine is full of forced and contrived developments and drama that just do not feel credible or convincing at any point. Even if you are sucked in by the comedic content early on, all that disappears, eventually ensuring that To Be Heroine is a show that’s best left untouched and unwatched.
Tom: Perhaps one of the more frustrating aspects to this whole thing is how heavily edited To Be Heroine is. This blog post details how the Japanese copy, which has ultimately been released as the International version we’re all watching through Crunchyroll, contains numerous adjustments; from speeding up animation, to cutting entire sequences in order to turn what should’ve been a short-form series into 7 full length episodes. This makes it difficult to pinpoint where the series suffers innately from poor writing and execution to where the adjustments are simply mucking things up. Sadly, no matter the case, this is the version we have to work with. And while I’m hesitant to say To Be Heroine is awful for the late game choices it makes, it’s at the very least no longer something I find myself recommending, not at all in the same way I did for To Be Hero.
To Be Heroine is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.